Thomas Tuchel has promised a new start for Kepa Arrizabalaga and says there can be a long-term future for the world’s most expensive goalkeeper at Chelsea.
This season, Kepa has made six appearances and none after an error led to a Luton goal in the fourth round of the FA Cup, Frank Lampard’s last game in charge.
His confidence is poor and his dreams of representing Spain in Euros have faded, but the new head coach is eager to coax him back to form on Thursday night, starting at Barnsley.
‘I believe he will be able to turn things around,’ Tuchel said. This is a chance and hopefully, he doesn’t want to overdo it. I want him to play a natural match. He doesn’t have to prove that he’s ready in the summer to be Spain’s No 1.
‘Just to demonstrate his excellence. Not more and not less than that. I have no hope that he will score and play with a clean sheet. I just hope that he will support us with good results.’
Since his £72million transfer from Athletic Bilbao in August 2018, Tuchel accepted that the record fee seemed to have burdened 26-year-old Kepa.
‘Maybe his relocation circumstances are a little bit on his shoulders,’ he said.
‘That was the outside impression. I see a good guy from the inside, with an open personality and a great deal of quality.
‘This is a fresh start for him, for I have no experience with him. It is our duty, because we depend on him, to push Kepa to the limit, to trust him, and to build up his power.’
At Barnsley, Tuchel is expected to make big modifications. Thiago Silva and Timo Werner do not have injuries. It is anticipated that Hakim Ziyech, N’Golo Kante, and Billy Gilmour will start.
To comply with Covid-related travel restrictions, Chelsea will play the away leg of the Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid in Bucharest.
‘We have to adjust to the solutions and look at them,’ Tuchel said.
‘They don’t have the home advantage, but I don’t doubt they’re going to be ready to fight us.